February 19, 2013

Drunken Crab with Chinese Rose Essence Wine 玫瑰露醉蟹

chinese, drunken crab, recipe, rose essence liquor, rose essence wine, 玫瑰露, 醉蟹

When people talk of 鮮甜, or the fresh sweetness, of seafood, they might just have had this dish, Drunken Crab with Chinese Rose Essence Wine 玫瑰露醉蟹, in mind.  Wonderfully fresh ocean flavor matched only by the incredible rose scented sweetness of the delectable crab flesh.  Ummm, just thinking about is making me drool.

We, the family, have just now (after digging out these photos from the last time we had this dish) voted to have this dish tomorrow again, yeah!  These crabs are so yummy that I don't even mind the drudgery of getting the darn crab flesh out of the shells (which I usually do mind very much!)  And it's really simple and fabulously dramatic to make!

chinese, drunken crab, recipe, rose essence liquor, rose essence wine, 玫瑰露, 醉蟹

chinese, drunken crab, recipe, rose essence liquor, rose essence wine, 玫瑰露, 醉蟹

As those of you who read this blog know by now, the first step to a spectacular seafood dish is sourcing the freshest seafood you can get your little hands on.  So it's off to the hong kong wet market for us to pick up fresh live crab.  

The crabs in these pictures are Flower Crabs.  They don't have a lot of meat but the meat is very delicate and sweet.  I find that many of the meatier crabs tend to be less delicate in taste.  Also the male crabs will be meatier while the female crabs are less meaty but have roe which is delicious and very good for you.  

You can tell the girls from the boys by flipping the crabs over to see the abdominal flap. The boys will have a flap that has a shape like a dong while the girls have a flap that is dome shaped.

chinese, drunken crab, recipe, rose essence liquor, rose essence wine, 玫瑰露, 醉蟹

You will also need a bottle of the chinese wine called Mei Kuei Lu Chiew or "rose essence liquor", which is a sorghum wine distilled with rose and rock sugar.  This fragrant liquor is so amazing to cook seafood with!!  But don't try drinking this neat, unless you are really, really good at handling your alcohol, as this liquor contains 55% alcohol!  

Did you know that most chinese wines have a similarly high alcohol content?!  It's a different kind of drinking culture, that's for sure. If ever you have to try Chinese wines, insist on really tiny cups.  You can find Mei Kuei Lu Chiew in most regular supermarkets in Hong Kong at the chinese wine/liquor section.

chinese, drunken crab, recipe, rose essence liquor, rose essence wine, 玫瑰露, 醉蟹
Drunken Crab w/ Chinese Rose Essence Wine 玫瑰露醉蟹
(Prep time: 5 mins  Cook time: 20 mins)


  • 6 crabs or 3 large ones
  • 1/2 cup Chinese Rose Essence Wine, or Mei Luei Lu Chiew 玫瑰露
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 cups chicken stock


Wash the crabs thoroughly in cold water and with a brush.  Careful of the claws!

Place live crabs in pot big enough to hold crabs comfortably.  Prepare a long armed lighter or match of some kind (such as those for lighting a barbeque).  Pour half the wine all over the crabs and set the liquor aflame with the lighter.  Add the rest of the wine slowly, using your lighter to reflame up the liquor as needed.

Once the flames die down, place pot on stove at medium heat and pour in the stock and the ginger.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the crab is a bright orange color.  Remove from heat and serve.  You can also serve the leftover liquid in pot as soup...very yummy!

Tips on cracking crab shells:    Grab hold of the edge of the shell at the opposite end from the crab's eyes.  Lift up and remove.  The guck and roe in the shell cavity is delicious and should not be wasted.  Next remove the gills (beige spongy bits) and discard.  Remove the legs by twisting.  Get yourself a crab cracker, the simple kind that looks kind of like a wrench.

Then crack claw legs gently into bigger shell pieces rather than smaller so that you don't have to spend half the time picking out crab shell remnants.  The smaller legs you can just suck out the meat somehow.  Or poke it out with your chopstick.  

For the body, remove the abdominal flap at bottom, hold the crab in two hands and break in half along the indentation along the crab's bottom side.  It should break easily and cleanly along this axis and all the meat will be easily accessible with a bit of digging.  Happy crabbing!



  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe. We tried it, and the taste is superb! The rose wine really infused into the crab meat :) This is awesome!

  2. Thank you for sharing. We tried this recipe, the rose wine essence is infused into the crab meat, hence enhanced the sweetness. This is superb! :)

  3. Hi Millie - Thanks, I'm so glad that you liked it! Those chinese wines are really something else once you start exploring them!